In the Mood for Love

It is a restless moment. She has kept her head lowered… to give him a chance to come closer. But he could not, for lack of courage. She turns and walks away.

—- Kar-Wai Wong, In the Mood for Love

The other day I watched Chunking Express on my streaming Criterion Channel. The movie was not what I expected (though I’m not sure what I was expecting) but enjoyable when taken on its own terms.

Over the weekend I was able to sit down and watch another Kar-Wai Wong film, one that is possibly even more well-known than Chungking ExpressIn the Mood for Love.

The English title of the film comes from the Bryan Ferry  song (though the song does not make an appearance in the movie – only the trailer)

The song was originally recorded in 1935, and there are many versions – this is the best:

Again, the film was unexpected – but enjoyable. Be forewarned – not much actually happens in the film, it’s definitely a movie where you sit back and let it wash over you. It is a beautiful film, with beautiful people wearing amazing costumes. It is a film of mood, of things not said, of ultimate regret.

The ending is a departure from the style (and location)  of what comes before – but like the best of endings that take a turn (if not a twist) in the last few minutes, thinking about it, there is no other way it could end.

I have had a visit to Angor Wat on my bucket list for a long time. Now I really want to go there. Who knows what secrets are locked up between those ancient stones?

Also, I wish I wasn’t on a low-carb diet… I want to carry around an old dented green steel vacuum bottle full of hot noodles.

A Month of Short Stories 2014, Day 27 – Cathay

A year ago, for the month of June, I wrote about an online short story each day for the month. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.

Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year.

Today’s story, for day twenty-seven – Cathay, by Steven Millhauser

Read it online here:


After I read the story I found that Cathay is an alternate name for China in English. I wish I hadn’t learned that – the amazing world of the story should remain mysterious and shrouded – to tie it to a real place seems to dull the gleaming magic a little.

But this is a minor thing. It is still a place where golden mechanical birds sing as beautifully as real, where women have tiny paintings on their eyelids and elsewhere, and floating islands might be breeding.

In Millhauser’s Cathay the emperor’s concubines are so beautiful and artfully decked out they can’t even be gazed upon by normal men. All that do spend the rest of their lives wracked by tormented longing… which, I suppose puts them in the same state as the rest of us.

It’s an enchanted travelog to a plane of the imagination that ends with a battle of magicians and living statues.

A place of pure fancy.

So much the sadness.


There are Fifty-four Steps of Love, of which the fifth is Yearning. There are seventeen degrees of Yearning, through all of which the lover must pass before reaching the sixth step, which is Restlessness.